Researchers from the University of Mayland’s Institute for Research of Electronics and Applied Physics published a new study aiming to understand why a flight cross-country from San Francisco to New York can feel worse than another way around. They created a new kind of model showing the brain’s “pacemaker” cells have a harder time heading to the east than to the west.
The sleeping cycle, or the body’s circadian rhythm, is controlled by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. In this new study, researchers generated a mathematical model that helped describe how cells in this part of the brain respond to a rapid change in time zone. Essentially, when there is a rapid shift in daylight, for example, when a traveller is going east, in the opposite direction to the sun, the brain “pacemaker” cells cannot settle a rhythm appropriate to the new time zone. And that is causing symptoms of sleeping difficulties and daytime fatigue.
More details here.